Saturday At Wickham Festival, Hampshire

in Festivals/Live

The rural village of Wickham, Hampshire made the perfect backdrop for it’s boutique festival of folk and traditional music.

It was a scorcher of a day but had the most chill and intimate vibe packed with goers of all ages.

You were spoilt for choice in terms of food, from African bunny chow to paella and vegan burgers. It’s tents and gazebos uniquely decorated and stalls offering things from tarot readings to vintage clothing and drop-in folk drumming workshops. Although small, the festival boasted many stages including a stage for traditional morris dancing, to two large tents, a circus stage and a cinema.

Scottish traditional folk musician Alistair Russell kicked off the day on the Valley Stage which he also hosted. The usual sound engineer set the bar high for the rest of the day with his distinctive and superb vocals and audience participation, performing traditional folk songs.

Opposite were the Twisted Tearooms, uniquely decorated with handmade bunting, chandeliers and instruments on the walls. The performance space with colourful hangings and flags made a fitting backdrop for South-Coast indie-psychedelic band Jade Cocoon. A stripped back version of the band – Matt with his captivating vocals and telecaster and Ryan’s rhythmic wonderfulness on the cajon, tightly performed original material including songs Chemicals and Twisted Operator.

One of the most exciting aspects of a festival, particularly the more intimate ones, are discovering new acts. Over at Quay West Cave performed Portsmouth based young talent, The Alice Milburn Band. The four-piece presented us with infectious funky guitar riffs and soulful Corrine Bailey-esque vocals from Alice. They performed a mixture of covers and original songs including Use Meand a rendition of Can’t Rely on You, featuring a pan and a wooden spoon!

Back over at the Valley stage energetic Canadian band Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys transported us into a country adventure complete with simultaneous tap dancing and violin playing. This was followed the popular Melbourne folk duo Pierce Brothers, think Australian Mumford and Sons. Whilst duo Orkney Islanders Saltfishforty treated us with some traditional celtic music.

Tom Robinson played to a packed out stage, so packed that the crowd went out as far as the food stalls. Still as relevant as ever, the British singer-songwriter long-time LGBT rights activist received an amazing and emotional reception, playing famous songs such as War Baby and Glad To Be Gay.

John Illsley, former bassist of eighties band Dire Straits, played 75 minutes of hits before headliners Squeeze played a polished set of their hits, making a fantastic finale to the Saturday night.

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